Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading Rainbow: Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

Henning Mankell hits the ground running in Faceless Killers, the first in the internationally acclaimed Kurt Wallander series made popular in part by both the (multiple) Swedish and BBC series that aired in the US under the Masterpiece Mystery! banner on PBS, the latter starring Kenneth Branagh as the titular Swedish Police Inspector.

The thing that sets Mankell's work apart from the standard detective fare is that he uses the genre as a vehicle by which he can shine a light on the ills plaguing Swedish society. Faceless Killers sees a gruesome double homicide at an isolated farmhouse set off a powder keg of racial tension and anti-immigrant sentiment in Skåne, the southernmost County in Sweden. Spawned by a dying woman's last word, "Foreign," the historically homogeneous Scanians have their fears of heterogeneity take hold and run wild. As anonymous white supremacists begin threaten the refugee populations of the area, fear of violence runs roughshod over the populace.

Having set the stage and piqued the tension, Mankell has created an environment ideal for a case in which the stakes are high. The minefield that Kurt Wallander has to traverse is compelling, and his path is not always the most obvious route. Faceless Killers is surprising, as it chooses the genre of the crime novel as its platform for shining a light on the prejudiced underbelly of Swedish society.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...